PLYMOUTH — One down, two to go.
James Hackworth pitched a three-hit gem, and Plymouth’s modified lineup produced 14 hits as Post 27 dimed Highland Post 180 12-1 in an abbreviated seven-inning contest in the first round of American Legion Baseball Regional action Friday night at Bill Nixon Field.
Plymouth will take on South Bend Post 50 — which topped Bristol Post 143 11-1 in eight innings in the regional opener Friday — at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Hackworth struck out 10 while allowing just one walk and three hits in seven innings to power Plymouth over Highland. He threw five innings of shutout baseball before Post 180 strung together a pair of hits and a sacrifice fly for its only run of the night in the bottom of the sixth.
“He set the tone for the whole night,” said Post 27 head coach Tony Plothow. “He really got ahead of hitters. He had them off balance the whole night. He didn’t give up freebies. We made some plays behind him to help him out and kept him out of trouble the whole night. We had one inning where he got out of it after giving up a run, so it wasn’t more, and then we answered back to finish it in seven, which is big in this tournament, double-elimination. Obviously, he’s been pitching well the last three or four weeks.”
“I felt great coming in,” said Hackworth. “It was hot out there. I had a lot of sweat down on me, so I wasn’t as on with the fastball with everything weighing down on it, but overall I felt great. With their main hitters, I was trying to work off-speed and make them get out in front of it and hit ground balls. The curveball was effective. Sometimes the change-up was on, but mostly the curve.”
While Hackworth took care of business on the mound, Post 27’s batting order — out usual number five hitter Evan Jurjevic, who was sidelined with a sore shoulder — racked up 14 hits against Highland’s Jordan Minch and Nik Mason. Plymouth plated four runs jumping on top in the second, capitalizing on three walks and a hit batsman. Post 27 scratched out three more runs in each of the fifth and sixth frames off nine hits in the span. The visitors on the scoreboard put up another two runs in the top of the seventh responding to Highland’s lone run in the bottom of the sixth, sealing the mercy rule win.
Post 27 third baseman Sean Rogers went 3 for 5 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored, while Sean Knepper finished with three RBI and a run on two hits and a walk.
“We were very patient early,” said Plothow. “(Minch) had some control problems early and we put the bat on the ball and forced them to make some plays. We didn’t get the gappers every time. We had some little bleeders, but we’ll take those. We had some real good base-running plays. I thought (Sean) Knepper hit the ball well tonight. He came up big with some hits.”
• POST 50 11, BRISTOL 1
South Bend: 000 410 06 — 11 12 1
Bristol: 000 010 00 — 1 10 4
Connor Brown (W), Zach Dashner (8) and Robert Heritz; Josh Schuller (L), Austin Summy (7) and Nick DeFreese.
2B: Brandon Weinkauf (B).
• PLYMOUTH 12, HIGHLAND 1
Plymouth: 040 033 2 — 12 14 1
Highland: 000 001 0 — 1 3 3
James Hackworth (W) and Nick Latham; Jordan Minch (L), Nik Mason (6) and Tariq Suboh.
2B: Sean Knepper (P), Sean Rogers (P), Bill Gerstner (H).